Africa

Tourist mask… from Africa or Asia?

Q:  I am sincerely hoping you can help solve a 25 year mystery. When I picked up this mask in a junk shop in Yorkshire for £5 the shop owner ‘wanted it out’.
In all those years I have searched until I have gone mask blind and never found anything similar. Could you please shed some light on it’s origins, is it ritualistic? It is finely carved, yet the pentagram on the forehead looks crude and possibly added later. Could it have had a stick at the bottom to hold over the face? The only fastening marks are where I removed vintage electrical wire used for hanging.
I love it for the beauty of the carving and positioning of wood grain, but my husband thinks it’s worthless nonsense. I would very much appreciate if you could settle this quandary.  Tanya, 1459
A:  You have a nice piece of art. It is well carved and very decorative. It is actually a souvenir that one uses for decoration. Real masks– the ones that are actually worn in native cultures– are sometimes better looking and always more interesting. I suggest that you start exploring the field by visiting www.MasksoftheWorld.com and other tribal art dealers.

Your husband is not exactly correct. The “mask” is handsome and has value, but not to collectors. It could have been made in Africa or Asia. I can’t tell. Maybe someone will comment.  D+

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